Marty McFly studies for a Civil War test at Hill Valley College with the assistance of an holographic tutor. Marty went on with playing his guitar with headphones on, ignoring what the tutor was saying. She yells the date of "February 11, 1864; Chattanooga, Tennessee" within range of the new DeLorean time machine's audio activated time circuits, enabling the car to change the date and location. Upset that he was second to his older brother Jules, Verne Brown decides to hop into the DeLorean and take it for a test drive, unaware that the time circuits were activated. Verne drives the DeLorean off the launch pad and breaks the time barrier in the sky.
He emerges outside Chattanooga (after the DeLorean was rebuilt with spatial displacement) and is confused by the Confederate Army for some kind of Union Army "devil" wagon. The DeLorean clips a series of Confederate tents before Verne activated the time machine's night vision. The DeLorean runs into another tent, catching it, and comes to a stop. While under the cover of the tent, the car compacts into a briefcase, with Verne to its side. Doc, Marty, and Jules go back in time to find him during the American Civil War.
Verne then encounters Confederate General Beauregard Tannen and his men at the campsite. Tannen asks if Verne was a spy for the Union Army, which he has no answer. Doc Brown, Jules, Marty, and Einstein are forced to take the Jules Verne Train to rescue Verne from the past after finding him in a picture taken of Confederate soldiers a day before the battle, as the text had indicated that the Confederates were wiped out in a massacre. While the Confederate army troops kidnap Marty and capture Einstein, the Union army troops capture Doc and Jules. Verne begins to see the Confederate army troops hold both Einstein and Marty hostage and locking them in the jail under the wrong orders from General Tannen.
On the day of the battle, Doc and Jules build an electromagnet from an electric magnetic machine marketed to General Ulysses S. Clayton, and use it to attract all the weapons from both armies. Jules and Verne end up on opposite sides of the war; Verne is recruited by the Confederates and Jules in the Union army. When this fails, Jules is thrown into the middle of the battlefield and Verne comes to protect him. When both armies see this, they stop and admire the brothers' bonding. Brothers, cousins, and uncles from both sides begin to embrace one another and huddle together in the center of the battlefield. The soldiers realize that they are fighting their own brothers, cousins, uncles and nephews. Both parties walk away from the battle without fighting. Tannen and Clayton agree to work together... "just long enough to drive you troublemakers out of here!" Einstein finally takes Doc, Marty, Jules, and Verne with him back to 1991.
During the live-action segment, Doc reveals that Marty studied the American Civil War in vain, and failed. Had he been paying attention in class, he would have known that the exam was about the Spanish Civil War, which lasted from 1936 until 1939.
- Doc inputs the date of February 7, 1895, and the location Baltimore, Maryland, in order to demonstrate the new spacial displacement capabilities of the new DeLorean time machine. Doc was close, but, Ruth was actually born on February 6 of that year. Doc made a similar mistake when demonstrating that one could witness the birth of Jesus Christ (in the original film), displaying the date "DEC 25 0000". There was no year between 1 BC and 1 AD. Even at that, Jesus was born in or before 4 BC, since the Bible states that he was born during the reign in Judaea of King Herod the Great, who died in 4 BC. Scholars have concluded that the birth of Christ was probably during the springtime (March or April) because that was the time of year that shepherds would have been watching their flocks of sheep during the night, as described elsewhere in the Bible.
- A transcript for the episode is available here.
- Marty wears a 32 slim for pants, which he notes when trying on Confederate clothing, which, for his height and age, makes him a little overweight.
- This pilot episode marks the first time that Bill Nye made an appearance on television, before getting his own show Bill Nye the Science Guy.
- Christopher Lloyd, as Doc, introduces the story: "Jules, the older of my two offspring, has assisted me in the assembly of this, a simple, yet fully operational electromagnet. In the interests of accuracy, this is not the first occasion on which Jules and I have constructed such a device... the year was 1864."
- Cartoon elements - Produced and directed by BTTF co-creator Bob Gale, the series combined clever writing, a faithfulness to the characters, and lessons in science and history... and, in the retelling of a story to children, things that could happen only in a cartoon. Thus, Jules tears a large hole through a door, Verne plunges from an altitude of several hundred feet and Marty breaks his fall, and Einstein drives a car.
- Doc: "If you park it on the street, it's bound to get ripped off."
- Marty: "Sure, because it's a time machine."
- Doc: "Because it's a DeLorean! These things are collector's items!"
(The DeLorean is compressed to the size of a suitcase and Marty struggles to lift it.)
- Marty: "Whoa! Heavy!"
- Doc: "Heavy indeed! 2,796 pounds to be exact. After all, there's a car in there."
- Verne: "They both treat me like a baby."
- Marty: "Verne, you're no baby! You're my main man! A macho dude!"
- Verne: "Gee, thanks, Marty. Can I borrow your hoverboard?"
- Marty: "Get out of town. You're too little!"
(After going from 1991 to 1864)
- Marty: "Hey Doc, over 125 years in 6 seconds! That's not too shabby!"
- Doc: "Well, I had to ease up going around the turn of the century."
- "Well guys, we'd love to stay and be massacred, but.., our ride's here."
- —Marty, bidding farewell to the troops
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